The Arizona Coyotes are experiencing leadership problems this season — just ask them.
Or, read the following quotes from AZCentral:
“Our inconsistency has probably been the most glaring weakness and that pretty much falls directly on us leaders in the room.” — Shane Doan
“I think the leadership has obviously got to step up — that’s the guys we count on every night and that’s the guys we need to step up right now because it’s a bad situation.” — Martin Hanzal
“(The veterans) have to do their job. They can’t just be a nice guy off the ice. They have to actually do the job and be respected on the ice.” — Dave Tippett
It’s clear something’s been wrong in Arizona through the first half of the season (and you could replace “something” with “lots of things.”) Mike Smith has been a nightmare in goal, the players have seemingly abandoned Tippett’s defensive approach and GM Don Maloney’s already played his shake-it-up card when, in the hours following an ugly loss to L.A. in December, he waived Kyle Chipchura, traded Rob Klinkhammer and sent David Schlemko to the minors.
But those were all peripheral moves that affected fringe guys, not core ones. With these recent quotes about leadership issues and underachieving veterans, you have to wonder what’s next.
Antoine Vermette, as we’ve documented thoroughly, could be on the move. Keith Yandle has been on the block for ages and could be again as we draw closer to the March trade deadline, and the Coyotes went out of their way to address Doan rumors via Twitter last week (which many saw as a “you doth protest too much” moment.)
Other veterans could be on the block as well. Martin Erat, David Moss and Zbynek Michalek are all on the wrong side of 30 and UFAs at season’s end; next year, Doan and Yandle are up. With Arizona sitting 13th in the Western Conference and primed to miss the playoffs for a third straight year, the question has to be asked: Is now the time to break up the core?